Okinawa Tourism Information:EnjoyingtheTalesofShurithrutheConfectionariesOfferedat[Shulien].SweetsShop[DessertLaboChocolat]inShuriKinjo-cho

Enjoying the Tales of Shuri thru the Confectionaries Offered at [Shulien]. Sweets Shop [Dessert Labo Chocolat] in Shuri Kinjo-cho

post : 2020.02.14 07:00



Kinjo-cho in Shuri, Naha City, is known for the stone-paved roads from the bygone era and attracts many visitors who enjoy leisurely strolls in the area. Just a short walk from there is [Dessert Labo Chocolat], a popular cake and confectionary shop long cherished by the locals. The name of the shop was decided by Yoshiyuki Tajima, the owner/pâtissier who “just loves chocolate”. The most popular selection at the shop is definitely their [Chocolat]. The sweet chocolate and the slightly tangy taste of the raspberries are a perfect match in this cake that’s also lovely to look at. It’s a taste that they’ve kept since their opening in 2007, and its popularity speaks of the shop’s charm.



The sweets offered here are also known for the elaborate and abundant chocolate decorations on their cakes. The wedding cakes can be made to order and they’re gorgeous, like the one shown below, which is topped with a pretty chocolate tiara! “I wanted to make the decorations edible,” shares the owner-pâtissier, and so all the cakes are decorated with various chocolate works which makes them wonderful to look at and delicious to eat.


Photo Courtesy of Dessert Labo Chocolat

Besides cakes, Tajima-san also offers a wide selection of baked goods like cookies, macarons, financiers, merengues and others, because he wanted “the customers who visit the shop to be excited and have fun choosing what they’d like.”



Inside, there’s an area where you can sit and enjoy the sweets that you purchase, which makes the shop a perfect place to stop for a lovely break during your stroll in the neighborhood. They have a vending machine that offers tea and coffee to accompany your sweets, and this kind of casual hospitality is also one of its charms.



Tajima-san, the owner- pâtissier, is originally from the Maji area, which is situated near Shuri. The neighborhood where his shop is located was his route to school when he was growing up, and so he’s very familiar with the area. “I wanted to open my shop near where I grew up and where I know the people in the area.” It’s been almost 13 years since his wish came true.



It was in elementary school that Tajima-san began to be interested in making sweets. “I watched my sister bake cookies at home and I often helped her because it looked fun. I would watch the cookies baking in the oven, smell them as they came out of the oven, and the taste of the cookies – it was wonderful (chuckles). That’s when I thought to myself, when I grow up, I want to work doing something like that.”



After graduating from high school, Tajima-san attended a technical school in confectionary-making, and later apprenticed and honed his skills as a pâtissier for a total of nine years in Okinawa and Tokyo. He never lost his focus and has been devoted to his work for over 20 years. He declares without hesitation, “I’ve never not enjoyed making sweets.” Tajima-san continues, “I always want to continue studying and learning, and I don’t want to stop pursuing new creations. This is important to me, and having those feelings, I regularly come across new discoveries and that makes my life fun. That’s why I chose the word ‘Labo’ for ‘laboratory’ in the name for my shop.”



Tajima-san, who continues his pursuits in “creating new things”, uses local Okinawan ingredients to make sweets that can’t be found where else. His Raisin Sandwich is one of them, made with Ie Rum Santa Maria Gold, the rum produced on Ie Island located just off the main Okinawa Island. The big, plump raisins are marinated in the rum and sandwiched together with butter cream that contains white chocolate. In the soft and slightly sweet cream are big, chunky raisins that add great texture, and the aromatic rum spreads delightfully on your palate.


Photo Courtesy of Dessert Labo Chocolat

In welcoming their 10th anniversary in 2017, Tajima-san launched his new challenge with the lineup of baked goods titled “Shulien” to commemorate the milestone. Tajima-san explains, “This shop was born in Shuri and nurtured by the local people. I wanted to share my gratitude and create confectionaries rooted in Shuri, and I also wanted to collaborate with local companies and create something together. That thought was what started this whole project. I searched for ingredients that I could use in making confectionaries and went directly to local companies to discuss the idea. After much research and studying, we finally created these four types of financiers.”


Photo Courtesy of Dessert Labo Chocolat

The [Shuri Ocho Hachimitsu (Shuri dynasty honey) x Lemon Peel] exquisitely combines the sweetness of Shuri Ocho honey by Arakaki Bee Farm and the refreshing flavor and aroma of lemon peels. The [Zuisen/Awamori x Kokuto (brown sugar)] has a deep, enjoyable flavor and aromatic finish with the Awamori produced by Zuisen Distillery blended into the batter and soaked after baking, combined with brown sugar. The [Tamanaha Miso x Cheese] is made with Tamanaha Miso blended with melted butter for a sweet and salty flavor, and accented with chunks of cheddar cheese. And finally, the [Hantagawa Tofu x Goma (sesame seeds)] is made by adding Hantagawa Tofu, the handmade tofu by the Sueyoshi Tofu company, to create a gentle sweetness, and the aroma of the sesame seeds make this a very sophisticated flavor.



“With the ingredients we were collaborating, we decided to not use them on their own, but we wanted to come up with other ingredients to really bring out the flavor and texture for a richer enjoyment. So, we set out looking for ingredients that complimented each other. There were some ingredients that have never been used in making confectionaries, and so, when we baked with them, sometimes they didn’t turn out as we expected. We went through many trials and errors, and finally came up with these four varieties that we are very proud of.”



Shulien is available in a box of two financiers of different kinds. They also offer a box of all four varieties and they’re great for souvenirs and gifts to take back from your visit to Okinawa. The packaging is notable, too, with designs of the Shurijo Castle. On the four different boxes are structures within Shurijo Castle: the Seiden, Nanden and Bandokoro, Hoshinmon gate, and Hokuden. The delicate and colorful illustrations and the refined designs express the elegance of the beautiful and deeply historic area of Shuri.


 

Tajima-san explains, “The name Shulien is taken from Shuri and the French word ‘Lien” meaning “connection, ties, and bond’. With this product, I hope that people will connect with Shuri, ties will be made, and people will feel a bond. Through sweets, I hope people will enjoy the stories found in Shuri. These are my hopes as I make the Shulien.”

This year, 2020, is only just the beginning of the road to reconstructing Shurijo Castle that was lost in the fire last year. Part of the proceeds from the sales of the Shulien line will be donated to the restoration project of the Shurijo Castle. Enjoy the sweets born in Shuri, and share your love with Shuri. I hope you’ll experience the tales of Shuri woven by the sweets offered at [Dessert Labo Chocolat].

 

Dessert Labo Chocolat
Address: 1F 4-7-4 Shuri Kinjo-cho, Naha City, Okinawa
Telephone: 098-885-4531
Hours: 10:00 to 19:30
Closed: Mondays (open if Monday falls on a holiday, and closed the following day instead)
Official Website: https://chocolat2007.jp/  



Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Norie Okabe
 

Information

沖縄県那覇市首里金城町4-7-4 1F